A change in perspective could make us all a little healthier.
There is a lot of angst throughout our country and world. Listening to the news, or scrolling through social media activate primordial survival reflexes. These reflexes are part of our “fight or flight” response to perceived threat.
Negative stories abound, as does fragmentation of sides of the issue.
From our evolution from cave dwellers, we constantly monitor our environment for threats to our survival. These same reflexes are activated by negative stories or posts on social media, much to our detriment.
Our survival pathways which monitor threats make us fearful and I think they make us ill.
"Dis-ease," or disease.
We are attacked with noisy voices that espouse polarity and tribalism. One side versus the other. Always with the message of “right” and “wrong” or who “good” and “bad”. This is the root of duality, which is how we experience the world.
But what if the truth we are seeking is one of balance and connection? That good and bad are two sides of a balanced whole. That sometimes we do things that are “bad” to achieve something we believe is “good" - like white lies. Or laying compliments on our bosses. Or saying something we feel guilty about. Or breaking a rule to help others.
While we see $100 bill as better than $1 bill, they are both foundationally the same – a piece of paper. One is seen as more valuable than the other because we perceive and believe it to be so.
Our perception is our reality. As Ghandi is believed to be said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Anais Nin said, "we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are."
True and wise words. But what if they are literally true?
Our perception is the lens we use to see our lives and may be the single most important and modifiable trait to experience happiness, fulfillment and health. Our internal story drives the way we see the world and identify ourselves in this world.
Our internal story identifies us as "this" or "that." "Republican or Democrat." A “West Virginian” or a “want-to-be West Virginian”.
The lens that comes from our story reflects and defines the way we interpret our lives and our health.
An important study by Nobel prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn illustrates this point. She won her prize for defining the biological age of cells by assessing the length of the caps of the ends of their DNA – telomeres. In a 2004 study she found that a central driver of biological age is the way we perceive our world.
The more subjectively stressed we feel, the biologically older we become. This is independent of how an external referee would judge your stress. What if great health were within our control. What if health is an external reflection of our internal state?
What if seeing gratitude and abundance, as opposed to fear and stress makes us healthier?
Gandhi reflected this as he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
I think we are currently in a phase shift of change. Phase shifting is moving from one stable state to another. Like water to ice or steam, depending on what kind of energy you inject into the system.
We are phase shifting from a world of fear and scarcity to one of love and abundance, I believe.
While it may not seem this way right now, we can feel the groundswell of change and a new energy that is being contributed by many on earth.
This makes many people fearful. They like things as they are. But things are always changing.
Through this series of changes, there are new openings to commit ourselves to collaboration and community. To wholeness and unity.
From many longevity studies, the resounding and consistent finding is that our connection to other people and to greater purpose may be the secret to long and good lives.
Like the forest that sometimes has to burn to grow beautiful again, we have that opportunity right now.
Let’s change our state and world for the better, together.
Like Mountaineers, let’s go first.